By Aaron Bragman on March 28, 2013
Rolls-Royces are not like other cars. This becomes evident upon approaching one, even in the controlled confines of an auto show. It's massive, upright and it feels like it's of an entirely different species than the vehicles in surrounding displays. The new 2014 Rolls-Royce Wraith, which made its North American debut at the 2013 New York International Auto Show, is no different.
It frankly looks like nothing else on the show floor. From the upright grille to the totally unique roofline, it has a commanding presence and exudes a sense of gravitas missing from nearly every other car made by any manufacturer. The detailing is extraordinary — the A-pillars, roof and B-pillars are all one surface, an unbroken plane from the base of the windshield up, over and down to the trunk. And it is a trunk, not a hatchback, despite the Wraith's unusual shape. The trunk is completely lined with carpet nicer than what is in most rental apartments.
Inside, it becomes obvious that this is no ordinary coupe. From the controls to the wood veneers, everything one sees and touches is ultra-premium. Floormats are the thickest and deepest pile I've ever experienced, and every articulated door and cover moves with a slow and heavy action, enhancing the aura of relaxed pampering.
The headliner features a fiber-optic fabric that makes it appear as if a lovely evening sky were passing above the passengers' heads. The seats are not seats — they are best described as thrones, more comfortable and adjustable than most living room furniture, and as solid as the finest handcrafted Amish chairs.
That level of bespoke, hand-built feel permeates the entire car, as indeed it should — Rolls-Royces like the Wraith are still hand-built in very low volumes. Rolls-Royce said that it sold a record 3,600 cars in all of 2012, globally; Toyota sells that many Camry sedans every few days. Its rarity is part of what one pays for in a Rolls, and the new Wraith seems set to carry on the tradition.
Detroit Bureau Chief Aaron Bragman grew up in the Detroit area, comes from an automotive family and is based in Ann Arbor, Mich. Email Aaron